After the handshakes and business cards have been exchanged, here are some surefire ways to make yourself stand apart from your competitors and become more memorable to others after a networking event.
- Remember That Follow-Up is Most Effective (and Impressive) If You Contact a Person Within Twenty-Four Hours of Your Meeting: If you meet someone at a business luncheon, send an e-mail later that day. If you meet a client or colleague for dinner, send a thank-you note or e-mail the next morning. Out of sight leads to being out of mind, so if you don’t stay in contact with or make it a practice of supplying prospects and clients with helpful, useable information, you may quickly become a distant memory. By regularly staying in touch with your prospects and clients, you’ll ensure they’ll be far more likely to refer you to their friends, family, or associates rather than recommending your competitors.
- Ask New Acquaintances If You Can Connect with Them Through One of Your Social Networking Sites, Including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter: You may even want to enter their names and e-mail addresses and other pertinent information in a contact management program and then set up reminders to make contact on a monthly, quarterly, or bi-annual basis.
- Clip Relevant Articles or Send Links of Interest to People in Your Network: The operative word here is “relevant.” The right message at the right time shows people that you’re thinking about them and have their best interests at heart.
- Keep Your Word: This is the hallmark of professionalism. The quickest way to damage your credibility, tarnish your reputation, and lose another person’s trust is to ignore phone calls and e-mails. If you tell someone you will do something, make sure you do it. Don’t keep people in limbo. Opportunities might vanish if your follow-through takes too much time. We live in a ramped-up, impatient, I-want-it-yesterday society, and your attention to detail and timing will go far with others. You build your professional credibility by delivering on your promises.
- Express Gratitude: Get in the habit of expressing your appreciation to those who share their energy, time, and resources with you by penning a handwritten note. We all love to read or hear those two magic words “Thank you.” And while e-mail is a perfectly acceptable way to follow up, nothing makes a better impression (or can more effectively capture someone’s attention) than a warmly worded note. A prompt, friendly thank-you note is an opportunity to repeat your desire to meet again and offer your help. If you’re thinking that your handwriting is messy and unreadable, either print or type your note, but make sure to add a handwritten postscript and your signature to personalize it.